Some days, my kids collect calamities like honey in a hive. Skinned knees, misplaced socks, the misfortune of math facts, a sister who will not share, the ingratitude of a world bent on rain. The injustices pile up, ripe for picking, stashing, savoring, like a lemon-drop that puckers your lips but you . . . just . . . can’t . . . stop.
These are the tally-sheet days with their negative columns bulging, days that defy us to controvert Murphy’s Law, the willfulness of woebegone with its eye trained, staring. At us.
And then the fish dies.
Sometimes I handle this wealth of adversity with grace. More often, I struggle not to run from the prospect of one more tear, one more sniffle, one more princess band-aid, one more disaster claimed. Fallen blocks, the wrong snack, a play date canceled — they’re all fractured moments for a four-year old, a seven-year old. It’s hard to see the other end of disappointment when you have such a small handful of life for comparison. As a parent, I lose my patience. Are they really having a fit over that? I want to brush it off, mow it over — the calamity, whatever it is, is microscopic to me, and don’t they know we’re late again?
Rushing grief never works. I know this. My kids know it better than I do. Grief needs its own time to unfurl, its own restless blooming. The dead fish must be mourned, buried in the sunflower pot, while you rest your head on dad’s shoulder, palm to palm with mom. It’s the contact, the continuity, the presence of love that soothes the ache, binds the cracks. Sometimes, all I have to do is be there. No answers, no rainbow, no promises. Just me, in the muddle, the muck of it. Just me, holding on.